• zelechowski mathieu

Manage lockdown and mental health

Managing lockdown and post lockdown mental health :

Good news for some of us! The Covid19 lockdown is starting to ease in numerous countries. The impact of the situation on our lives had and still is massive on various aspects. This unprecedented pandemic sent us to lockdown in our homes, work from home. We are social by nature, that’s an important condition to keep us well mentally. We need interactions with others and many medical studies showed that isolation can lead to mental health issues.

I’am writing these lines from France where the lockdown was really strict. Officials decided recently to lift restrictions here, all of the sudden I had to manage a mix of joy and fear. For many of us physical and social distancing measures can present a number of challenges and they are still taking place despite the ease: separation from the loved ones, the loss of freedom, the feeling of boredom, frustration, fear and sometimes loneliness.

As a therapist, I know the importance of a healthy mind. I have seen cases of physical failures due to mental health issues. As we all know a good mind in a healthy body is essential.

So let’s work on our mindset !

  • Learn to stay away from the news. Of course it’s really important to stay informed and updated, but looking at your phone every five minute for covid news, keep the TV on news channel bursting constant noise is damaging for your ability to focus on things. Focus is important to built your inner peace, your work capacities and most important thinking abilities. So keep off emotional sensationalism journalism. Choose a reliable media and impose yourself a discipline. In my case, I started lockdown being brain plugged to constant news. News were good, I was feeling good. News were bad, I was feeling bad. I have now my daily routine, morning radio news with my coffee and evening news on TV, that’s it. I rediscovered the pleasure of reading the paper news and a more in depth analysis. So stay informed wisely and turn off the media noise.

  • It’s perfectly OK not feeling OK. Acceptance is a value that we all forgot. The myth of being perfectly fine and happy 24 hours a day is sold by influencers on social media. It’s in human nature to have ups and downs. Try to use frustration as an engine to achieve your own set tasks. If you feel totally in limbo, confused accept it and let it go by walking in that park next door you never went. Changing environment is the key to let pass your mind storm. Again it’s OK not feeling OK.

  • Reach out for help when needed. If you don’t fell right too often and too long get some help from a professional. This crisis is putting everyone at high stress, these uncertain times lead to the lack of being able to plan. Anxiety can occur at any stage of the day. There are professionals to help you if you are loosing control of the situation.

  • The corona crisis is temporary. The situation we are all experiencing is temporary, mankind went trough multiple pandemics and so far we are still on our blue planet. The main questions are perception of time and the frustration of not getting what we want. These days with the acceleration of life, we are used to get now what we want. A click on the screen and we can have in 24 hours something made on the other side of the planet right to our door. Everything is instant. We are talking here about a situation based on a worldwide scale and biological timing. Try to defeat your culture of speed, start to accept that time is not flowing at your will. Learn to be slow again, it is fine to walk for food shopping and take that 20 minutes to exercise instead of using your Uber app. A good strategy can be redoing thing on your own, cook, stop deliveries, DIY if possible. Doing so your perception of time will change, and you’ll realize that to achieve a task it takes sometimes time. We have to accept that the covid pandemic will end, that’s a fact! When ? No one have the answer. Learn to be patient and accept the situation.

  • Respect the rules. It may sound as an evidence but try to integrate without thinking all the rules related to covid19, that’s the only collective action we can take on something we have no control of as individuals. If you want life as before to resume quicker, that’s the only effective action you can take.

  • Respect others point of view. We all have our own opinion, fear level, paranoia level, theories on the situation. Debating is good when constructive, arguing can be draining. Try to assess where you are compared to your friends, family. They are mirrors of yourself when you talk. You might be surprised to see over reacting people under fear and paranoia, you might be annoyed to see some individuals showing total disrespect on safety measures because of their believes. Assess where your mindset is, compare to the people you interact with on that specific matter. It is way to know yourself better, make progress, and infuse peace of thoughts in your soul.

  • Don’t overdo.Whilst binge-watching your favourite Netflix series is perfectly acceptable, it’s a good idea to spend your social distancing time on lots of other activities too. If you are working from home, try to create, if you can, a dedicated space for your work station. We are always responding to emails at silly hours, myself included. Keep in mind that we need to have variety, our own time, our own peace, and some busy time to function properly. All digital nomads I know, and there are tons of them in Bali, will tell you the same story: «Work while you work, play while you play - this is a basic rule of repressive self-discipline ». If you work from home your situation is the same as a digital nomad. Impose yourself an agenda, instead of sending that email during your Netflix binge, stick a post it on your fridge to remind. And when walking outside, shopping forget about work, try to live the present and enjoy it.

  • Expose yourself to natural light. I can write zillions of pages about that topics, and there are tons of studies on that subject. Our body clock needs our natural light exposure to be set. It is hugely important, implications are big and there is so much to write about it. To simplify : during day time we need to see the sun, during night time we need to sleep. To avoid depression, insomnia, mood changes avoid screens at night that mimic day time for your brain and go outside if your local regulations allow it to get your natural light intake. It might be a good idea for example to organise your phone calls at a certain time, and phone directly from the comfort of a nice quite park with a note book on your lap.

  • Explore, wander, make your own adventure. I am gonna talk about my experience. I m stranded in France and can’t go back home in Bali at the moment. So because of the actual situation I had to shelter at my family place, where I grew up, spend most of my first 20 years of life. Basically I know the town like my pocket. After turning in circles for so long during lockdown and now being able to go where I want, I decided to explore my local area as if I was a tourist. I took the tourist boat, I went on walks I thought I knew. And i discovered another world !! We are all desperate to travel, we are all wanting to go back flying, crossing borders and explore. Then try to start with you local area : try that street you never walked but always thought « what is there « . Be curious about your neighborhood. We need to be exposed to new situations, new places to have a healthy mind.

Keeping well during this difficult times is not easy let’s face it. There are solutions, and help. Keep your mind open and try to improve. Be pro active, your mind is important your body too.

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